An exploration of the effects on programme design and development effected by educational leadership in reaction to societal and economic factors in Ireland.
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It has affected many countries around the world, and Irish higher education has not found itself immune from undergoing a period of significant change, powered by a number of factors: economic, political, and technological. While these trends are global in their scope, and profound in their impact, the pace of change in the Irish economy since 2007-08 in particular has required institutions and their educational leaders to encourage the emergence of programmes which can respond to the current national needs. In periods of rapid change such as this, educational leaders by necessity tend to focus on short-term strategy and transition planning, adapted to their institutional contexts. However, there are critical leadership issues related to curriculum policy and classroom practice which extend into the long-term. Students on these emergent programmes need to be able to respond effectively in turbulent societal circumstances. This paper reflects on the role of educational leaders in creating and shaping programmes through an exploration of the notion of the market-higher education interface. This case study is seeking to gain enhanced understandings of emergent trends in higher education programmes in the past five year period against a backdrop of continued changes to the Irish economy and society. It seeks to explore the new realities of how two Irish higher education institutions (HEIs) are being shaped by the market and how they hope to maintain or enhance the viability of their offerings, resulting in effective programme provision into the still uncertain future. Recommendations focus on challenging existing practices with regards to how educational leaders support programme development.
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